But the question is not when it should be applied, but when it shouldn't. How do we reconcile a jury saying that it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, and a judge saying there is enough doubt not to invoke the death penalty. I honestly cannot see how these can be reconciled. Sentencing is done on the basis of the seriousness of the crime, not on the weight of evidence.
Additionally, as for the idea of the possibility of additional evidence, the trouble is additional evidence cannot always be foreseen, for example, there have been a spate of miscarriages of justice discovered due to DNA evidence. When the convictions were originally made, DNA profiling was not yet known. Given the exponential increase in scientific knowledge, the amount of forensic methods available after the trial which were not available during the trial, is bound to increase. If we take a less concrete and more abstract definition of additional evidence, then, given the lack of knowledge we have over mental illness, it is hard to see how anyone could be convicted of the death penalty. This also opens up the question of whether enforcing the death penalty would make additional evidence less likely to be discovered.
But I also come back to my other point. Ian Brady wants to die, so why kill him?
You raise some good points there...
Firstly on the death penalty issue, I think a jury would understand that if they were to find someone guilty on the evidence presented but
there was an element of doubt, the judge would not impose the death penalty. Conversely I think they would also understand that if there was overwhelming evidence of the accused persons guilt (e.g. a video showing the accused committing the crime) that they would be willing to accept the death penalty.
However I accept your point that in the event of there being a miscarriage it would be rather hard to acquit someone of a death penalty, hence why I think it should only be used in the most severe crimes.
As you say sentencing is done on the seriousness of the crime, I've come up with a few examples and which sort of sentence should be applied. I stress these are only MY opinions.
#1 A man is killed in a park there are no witnesses, the accused is found through a series of evidence trails and circumstantial evidence, on the balance of evidence the jury finds the defendant guilty, however I feel that in this sort of situation the death penalty should not be applied because there is an element of doubt preventing the use of the Death Penalty.
#2 The accused is caught on camera picking a fight with an old man walking down the street, there is no provocation, yet the accused beats the man to death for no apparent reason. The accused is not under the influence of any substance. The entire crime is caught on CCTV, the accused shows no remorse for his crime. IMO on this occasion the death penalty should be used, the accused has shown no remorse for the crime, he attacked a frail old man for no reason whatsoever.
OK so those may be a little over-simplified but they show that there different situations deserve different levels of punishment.
As for Ian Brady I think he should be allowed to kill himself, he should be put into a padded room with a blunt knife and left to it. After all he is costing the UK taxpayer thousands of pounds to maintain in prison, if he was left to get on with it we'd all be better off.
Personally I think the criminal justice system in our country is a joke. There are no deterrents for crime.
A friend and I were walking home after a night out in Bournemouth, we were attacked by a gang of nine youths of varying in age between 17 and 19 years of age, for no other reason than they had decided the car park we were walking through was theirs (that's what they told the police!) and no one else could walk through it. Luckily all this was caught on camera, and my friend managed to grab the coat, which contained his wallet and driving license, off one of them when they did a runner when the cops arrived. I was quite badly hurt as I'd been set upon by five of them, and not even Rocky Balboa can dodge five punches thrown at the same time.
From the CCTV the police were able to identify ALL of the attackers who were all known to the police previously and all of whom were known to have violent tendencies. Upon the police rounding them up they were all duly charged with varying degrees of assault, possessing weapons, assaulting a police officer and various other offenses. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to press charges against the youths below 18, irritating but OK. However the other got taken to court duly found guilty and with the exception of the one who attacked a female police officer were all let off with between 40 and 90 hours of community service. where's the justice there? I spent five weeks in hospital with broken ribs, a fractured skull, broken jaw and cuts and bruises all over the place. I got a measly 482 pounds from the criminal compensation board, despite my injuries being worth well over three grand. I lost over four grand in lost earnings (at the time i was a freelance contractor).
Sorry I've just realised how much I've been ranting on. I'll stop now. However perhaps you can better understand my feelings now?